Starting on November 1, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits have been cut as a part of the government stimulus package from February 2009 coming to an end. In addition to SNAP benefits, other programs that benefit low income families such as Ohio Works First are also losing benefits.
SNAP is a program that allows eligible families to receive money and food stamps to buy food. Ohio Works First is a program that gives families a small amount of money for a limited time, usually three years. Families must have a low income for a certain number of people in each household as well as reasons they cannot work such as disabilities. On January 1 the requirements to apply for SNAP benefits will change so that anyone who has no children, no job and no disabilities may not get any benefits.
The data for the amount of meals being delivered in November will not be released until early January. Marylin Tomasi of Mid-Ohio Food Bank said they estimated that Franklin County, which has the most highly populated city in Ohio Columbus, lost about 2 million meals for the month of November. This is due to the lack of SNAP benefits, which according to Tomasi was difficult to maintain even before the stimulus ended. “You usually only get about $1.46 a meal on your SNAP benefits so by the third week of the month you have already exhausted your monthly SNAP benefits. By the fourth week you are out of benefits and still hungry.”
The total spending of the Ohio Works First program grew after the stimulus package was put in place and eventually doubled. The program started spending less and less around mid-2012. In September the total amount of money spent on the program was the lowest it has been since 2008. The drop seems to start on February 2012. This is 36 months after the stimulus act came into effect.
It seems that the poor and the hungry of Ohio are going to have trouble receiving extra food and money in the coming months.